The earth is drying up. Not literally, of course, but recent drought conditions throughout the U.S. cause citizens and weather specialists to question the future. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that up to 65 percent of the country suffers from the affects of no rain. What does this sobering statistic mean for you?
Drought affects food prices
Food prices rise when drought conditions persist. Farmers rely on rain to saturate their corn, wheat and barley fields. When fields are unable to produce an adequate yield, supply dwindles, demand increases and you pay more at the grocery store.
While these crops serve as food sources for consumers, livestock also need grains. Insufficient food results in thin cattle, chickens and pigs. With less meat available at market, consumers pay more while farmers receive less income.
Along with higher grocery prices in the continental US, food prices around the world increase. Countries from South America to Asia rely on imported grains and meats. As they face food shortages, economic challenges and civil unrest follow. In time, you could be affected by the attitudes around the world because the world economies and social peace are interconnected.
Drought affects water quality
Water quality is another effect of the drought. As water levels drop, the concentration of toxins, acids, bacteria and algae increases. Municipalities add chlorine to the water in order to kill the contaminants, and the chlorine makes the water taste bad.
When water quality drops, waterbourne illnesses increase. Water keeps you and your family hydrated and healthy, but you don’t want to drink water when it tastes bad.
Poor water quality affects wildlife and fish as well. The increase in contaminants kills fish. The decrease in fish populations affects the profit fisheries make.
Droughts affect communities
Consumers, farmers and fisheries suffer during drought. Other industries also feel the effects of water shortages. Landscaping businesses and golf courses rely on water to keep their foilage lush and alive. When these industries cannot earn a decent income, communities face higher unemployment rates.
Some communities are more deeply affected than others are. With no rain, wildfires occur. Especially in western and Midwestern states, fire threatens many homes and damages roads. Firefighting personnel work hard to reduce damage, but dry ground cover quickly ignites in the absence of regular precipitation. People and wildlife lose their homes, and forests spend years recovering.
How can you cope with drought?
Despite the bad news, you can survive a drought. Start by cooperating with local burn bans and restrictions on water usage. While inconvenient, these restrictions save natural resources. Don’t burn trash, build campfires, wash your car, take long showers or top off your pool.
Compensate for the decreased water quality by installing water filters on the refrigerator or faucet in your home. With palatable water, your family enjoys fresh water that tastes great and keeps you healthy.
Finally, grow your own food or buy local. Supporting your local community improves the economy, especially if your neighbors rely on rain for their income.
It’s not enough to know that this year is the drying in recent history. More than a statistic, drought affects individuals, wildlife, communities, the country and the world. Make a difference when you conserve water every day.